Is Uganda ready to combat natural Disasters and attendant risks?

While, the Action Coalition on Climate Change (ACCC), a member of Global Network for Civil Society Organizations on Disasters (GNDR), been at the fore front of promoting local initiatives within many communities in Uganda on disaster risk reduction,  Uganda is regularly and continues to be  affected by multiple disasters including droughts, earthquakes, floods, landslides, and volcanoes among others with  enormous negative impact on the economy, health and livelihoods of the people as well as the environment and climate.

Flooding itself has presented the largest risk where it nearly impacts 50,000 people and over $62 million in gross domestic product in Uganda (GFDRR, 2017). Floods have hit several areas of Uganda including its capital, Kampala. The escalating floods have had a devastating negative impact on the lives of people, livestock, businesses, household items as well as human settlement. Most of the people especially those living in slam areas have been displaced while others have had to move to neighboring areas for shelter with relatives and close friends.

Landslides have affected the socio-economic status for a number of people mainly those living near mountainous areas of Uganda. For example, landslides have severally hit Bududa district in eastern Uganda, Kabale in south west, Buhweju, Bundibujo among others where most of the villages have highly been destroyed. The International Federation’s Disaster Relief Emergency Fund report (2010) indicates that around 400 people lost their lives in the landslides that hit areas of Bududa while others were displaced as well as losing their properties. In addition, it resulted into destruction of critical infrastructures such roads, hospitals, schools, crops, and sanitation systems.

With such destruction and other potential risks, there is need by the government and development partners to design strategies to address disaster risks. This should take an integrated approach that entails disaster management, planning, response and recovery, and humanitarian assistance. Given the previous experience with observable issues in handling disasters and their aftermath by the relevant ministries and agencies, mitigating and minimizing the disaster risks is compelling and urgent for our country. Integrating the processes and technology solutions is necessary for critical infrastructure protection in disaster management. Timely data generation and information, streamlining knowledge sharing, situational analysis and optimize collaboration among organizations and agencies are necessary measures in mitigating the dangers of natural disasters. ICT can help reduce the loss of life and property, reunite families and alleviate human suffering by providing first responders with the tools for effective communication and collaboration to overcome challenges posed by distance, diverse languages, cultural differences, geographic barriers, international borders and damaged infrastructure. Provision of credible early warning systems, reduction in destruction of fragile eco-systems, planned settlements, mass sensitization of the masses, are essential in minimizing the potential risks that are associated with disasters both natural and manmade induced ones.

By Enock Nimpamya, Director Research, Action Coalition on Climate Change, ACCC

And

Kayera Brian, Research Officer, Action Coalition on Climate Change, ACCC